It might not be the most spectacular bridge in the world, but the The Ha’penny Bridge or Liffey Bridge is one of the iconic landmarks in Dublin. The story of the pedestrian bridge is a fascinating one. It was built in 1816 over the River Liffey , the bridge is made of cast iron and was cast at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire. The manufacturer, the Coalbrookdale Company cast the bridge in 18 sections then shipped it to Dublin.
The structure was originally called the Wellington Bridge before it was changed to the Liffey Bridge. However, Dubliners called it the Ha’penny Bridge due to the toll charged for crossing the bridge.
Before the bridge, a certain William Walsh operated a series of leaky ferries across the Liffey, Dubliners complained and the local authority told him to fix the ferries or build a bridge. Walsh being a canny businessman decided to build a bridge with the right to charge a ha’penny toll from anyone crossing it for 100 years. Remarkably the toll remained until 1919.
In the early years, Dubliners tried to take their horses across the bridge for free, arguing that they were not pedestrians, so could not be charged. Turnstiles were put in place to stop this practice. It was also said that during the Easter Rising in 1916, two men with bombs were refused entry to the bridge because they did not have the toll money. Only hundreds would cross the bridge when there was a toll, but know it is estimated that 30,000 cross it daily.
A plaque for leprechauns perhaps
This addition traffic has put a strain on the bridge and it was closed for repair and renovation in 2001. More recently the habit of leaving love locks on the bridge has been frowned upon and they are removed.
The short trip over the 141 feet long bridge is perhaps not the most exciting, but the bridge remains one of Dublin’s iconic landmarks loved by Dubliners and visitors.
Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.
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